Mystery Shrouds Lawyer’s Death After Homicide Ruling

More than a month after the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office concluded Preston Hollow attorney Ira Tobolowsky died from “thermal burns and smoke inhalation in association with blunt force trauma,” questions remain unanswered about who would want to murder the 68-year-old.

“This is an active and ongoing investigation, and we are not releasing any details related to this matter at this point in time,” Dallas Fire-Rescue Public Information Officer Jason Evans said.

Tobolowsky was found dead May 13 on the floor of his garage. Local news reports at the time quote fire officials saying the fire “seemed suspicious.” Dallas police assigned a homicide investigator to the case shortly thereafter.

The man firefighters found bore little resemblance to the dashing picture of the attorney that was splashed across local media. Family members told reporters that while he was mentally fit, a chronic medical condition had left Tobolowsky unable to fully extend his arms or raise his head. Walking was said to be difficult.

Speculation has centered around Steven Aubrey and Brian Vodicka, two attorneys involved in a defamation lawsuit Tobolowsky filed in July 2015. The three lawyers had been trading verbal barbs for years.

Judge Eric Moyé found Aubrey and Vodicka in contempt of court in March for allegedly refusing multiple court orders.
The two attorneys responded in April with a request for Moyé to remove himself from the case. The judge declined to do so. However, five days after the fire, on May 18, Moyé voluntarily recused himself from the proceedings, citing “implications in the death of Mr. Tobolowskhy.”

In 2013 when Tobolowsky represented Aubrey’s mother in a case against her son over the family estate, Tobolowsky eventually prevailed over Aubrey and his attorney, Vodicka. In his suit, Tobolowsky alleged that Aubrey and Vodicka continued to defame him in legal briefs even after the case had been settled.

Despite this, Aubrey filed yet another motion in April demanding more than $500,000 from Tobolowsky. In the motion, Aubrey wrote that “Tobolowsky must be punished with sanctions for his outrageous abuse of the judicial system and his violation of statute, codes, and rules.”

Toblowosky was a Mensa member who graduated from both Hillcrest High and SMU.

Three years after graduation, he co-founded the Lawfirm of Tobolowsky, Schlinger, and Blalock. In 1990, he started Tobolowsky & Burke, P.C., where he continued until his death. He specialized in commercial litigation and general civil practice.

Among his career highlights was arguing a case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1982. Tobolowsky is survived by Debbie, his wife of 39 years, and three sons.

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